Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Notations On Our World (Special Community Edition): #NeverAgain In Our Community

Our team was on hand as the Aliso Niguel High School Orchestra performed at Soka University in Aliso Viejo, California earlier this evening.      It was a World Class Performance that underscores the quality of the students and instructions at Capistrano Unified School District.

As we went to press here, we received some guidance from the Capistrano Unified School District on the upcoming March 14 Nationwide Walkabout that was spearheaded  in turn by the #NeverAgain Movement by the Parkland Florida Youth.     In our view the guidance below from the District reflects a commitment to Free Speech that we commend the District For:

Date: March 5, 2018
TO: CUSD Staff, Families, and Students
FROM: Ryan Burris, Chief Communications Officer
SUBJECT: Guidance for Possible School Walkouts
Dear CUSD Staff, Families, and Students,

The tragic event that transpired in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, has left a deep and significant impact on our nation, including our very own students. Our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones and peers whose lives will be forever changed. These events spurred many emotions, conversations, and debates associated with the incident, prompting many forms of public action.

We have listened to the voices of our students, our principals and our parents. Many students have reached out to their principals and teachers with the desire to participate in upcoming events including the March 14, 10 a.m. nationwide walkout. While CUSD supports the rights of our students to express their beliefs under the state and federal First Amendment rights, as a District we are not sponsoring or advocating any participation in demonstrations. Supporting the remarks by the California State PTA “care must be taken to ensure that orderly operation of the school is not disrupted and the physical safety of students is not threatened.” We have all agreed that our focus will remain on instruction and learning and to keep students safe in classrooms.  If students walk out of their classrooms or the school, we will supervise and will work with our campuses to strongly encourage that these activities take place in the safest locations possible.

Because this is a highly publicized known day to strangers, we continue to reinforce that the safest place to be is in the classroom. We do not encourage students to congregate in open areas putting themselves at risk and we expect our students to follow the guidance of our principals and staff to ensure safety. In accordance with state law, we will not discipline students who choose to assemble, provided they adhere to District and school guidelines including, but not limited to:

● All activities must be peaceful and respectful
● At no time may students leave the campus Additionally, a student may be marked truant if they do not return to the classroom or if they leave the campus.

We continue to encourage parents to have a conversation with their students and to make their  own expectations clear about participating in student demonstrations and these non-school- sponsored activities. Principals and school staff who have been approached by students should continue to talk with them about this matter and maintain open lines of communication with parents. To further support a safe campus environment, outside groups, parents/guardians, and other individuals who do not have official school business will not be allowed on campus to participate in the walkouts. As part of our normal operations, anyone visiting school campuses for school-related matters or for volunteer work must check in with the front office.  We are committed to the safety of all of our students and desire to assure staff, families, and students that our site staff will work tirelessly to create positive, supportive learning environment on all of our campuses in the event of any student demonstrations. 

Our priority is student learning and safety. What we expect this month from our students will ensure that our students understand future expectations, as many other walkouts are being planned nationally.

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